Never Forget The Value of Hard Work
We all know that hard work is important. If you’re an athlete, then you are especially familiar with this idea. You’ve probably been pushed and prodded by every coach you’ve ever had to give it all you’ve got, to work harder and harder. Nowhere is this message drilled in more than on the football field. I can still remember our coaches egging us on, yelling for us to hit harder. There didn’t seem to ever be a stopping point; there was always more to give. We did as we were told and we improved and most of the time we succeed in games. I’m grateful to those coaches who taught me to have a work ethic and never to give up.
Benefits of hard work
We can gain a lot from working hard. We can learn to believe in ourselves. It’s important to see that if you keep after something you can see positive results. There’s a certain confidence that comes from working all week to get ready for a game and showing what you’ve got under the lights with everyone watching. And if you come through and play well, there’s a sense of achievement that is hard to come by through other means.
What are you getting out of it?
But at some point, we do have to ask ourselves what we are getting out of all this hard work. The assumption on the football field was that it would all pay off during the next game. And more than that there was the underlying idea that working hard was in itself fundamentally good for us. As a kid, of course, I believed this. I didn’t always like picking myself up out of the dirt and hitting the bag one more time. But I did feel that I was getting stronger, that I was building something inside myself.
Having success on the field gave me a great deal of confidence. The physical nature of the sport (using your entire body to engage another player to protect your quarterback or get to the opposing quarterback) made each success extremely intense. Every made block was an achievement. And of course, every missed one was hard to take, especially if the running back got hit or god forbid, the quarterback was sacked.
So I do believe that I got stronger through football. But I’m not sure that all the hard work was worth it.
Are you getting what you want out of it?
It was hard to admit to myself, but I didn’t enjoy playing the game. I was putting in the work and seeing the results, and this was supposed to make me happy. That was the formula: hard work translates into success which translates into being happy. While I do admit that I got a thrill every time I made a tackle or drove someone off the line so my running back could dart through the hole, it ultimately wasn’t for me.
All my hard work in practice was not worth success I had during games. Eventually, when I stopped playing football, I didn’t miss it. Sure, I missed being congratulated after a great play. But that just wasn’t worth all the toil in the dirt during practice, all the up-downs, and one-on-one drills. Hard work can be a great thing for you, but it has to produce the results you want. It can be difficult to be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for, but as I can attest, it’s always worth it to be honest with yourself.
Once we get away from the idea that hard work is inherently good, no matter what it is, we can begin to explore what we should be focusing on. Our coaches pushed us hard and tried to make us tough, fearless warriors. The main tactic for accomplishing this was to put us through hell in practice. In doing this, they would weed out the weaker kids, and the stronger ones would get stronger.
But I think there could be more to coaching strategy than this. The correct drills for the correct amount of time are what every player needs. Endlessly hitting bags to make kids tougher is not all that effective in improving their skills. It may make them angry, and perhaps they can use this anger on the field. I suspect this was a goal of some of my coaches as well. But anger will only take you so far. A good team has strategic workouts and practices to bring out the best in each player.
We all work hard every day in whatever job we’ve chosen to do. I’ve never had one that was easy and I don’t know anyone gets home from work saying, “that was a piece of cake.” So if we’re going to work hard, we owe it to ourselves to make sure that our hard work is giving us what we want and truly improving ourselves or our situations.